Human Brain Reacts to Transcranial Extraocular Light

Lihua Sun, Jari Peräkylä, Anselmi Kovalainen, Keith Ogawa, Pekka J. Karhunen, Kaisa M. Hartikainen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Transcranial extraocular light affects the brains of birds and modulates their seasonal changes in physiology and behavior. However, whether the human brain is sensitive to extraocular light is unknown. To test whether extraocular light has any effect on human brain functioning, we measured brain electrophysiology of 18 young healthy subjects using event-related potentials while they performed a visual attention task embedded with emotional distractors. Extraocular light delivered via ear canals abolished normal emotional modulation of attention related brain responses. With no extraocular light delivered, emotional distractors reduced centro-parietal P300 amplitude compared to neutral distractors. This phenomenon disappeared with extraocular light delivery. Extraocular light delivered through the ear canals was shown to penetrate at the base of the scull of a cadaver. Thus, we have shown that extraocular light impacts human brain functioning calling for further research on the mechanisms of action of light on the human brain.

Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Psychology

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